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Author Topic: What's Next - A Tale of Two Cities Without the French Revolution?
Alix
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posted 09 December 2004 10:04 AM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The director and screenwriter of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to remove references to God and the church in the movie.
Chris Weitz, director of About a Boy, said the changes were being made after film studio New Line expressed concern.

The books tell of a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God.

"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website.


BBC


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Willowdale Wizard
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posted 09 December 2004 10:09 AM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
it says something about weitz that he hasn't resigned.
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 09 December 2004 12:25 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Two things:

quote:
He added: "I have no desire to change the nature or intentions of the villains of the piece, but they may appear in more subtle guises."

And in doing so, one changes them!

quote:
"Of course New Line want to make money, but Mr Weitz is a wonderful director and Philip is very supportive.

"You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America,"


Cowardice! Kowtowing cowards!


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Alix
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posted 09 December 2004 12:34 PM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, it's going to make the whole "war against heaven" thing kind of...impossible.

My jaw hit the floor. And then I was very, very angry.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: Alix ]


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skdadl
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posted 09 December 2004 12:42 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I haven't seen Troy, but I gather from reviews that the near-total excision of the Greek gods and goddesses from that film doomed it to collapse like a wet souffle.

It will be interesting to see what happens, though. I mean, iconoclasm can have many targets.

The motive for making the changes, though: I agree, it is low and cowardly and maybe dangerous to others.


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Alix
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posted 09 December 2004 12:48 PM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That was precisely why I didn't see Troy.

But I don't think this can work - I know iconoclasm can have many targets, but these specific books incorporate a war against heaven, angels who have become power hungry and keep god captive, god dying, the main character as a "second Eve" who undergoes a "second fall" - except that it's not a bad thing. Pullman comes down firmly on the side of knowledge over innocence. Heck, there's even a character who knows that it's her job to be the serpent in the garden.

It's so central to these books - they're kind of a revisioning of Paradise Lost.


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Timebandit
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posted 09 December 2004 12:52 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I haven't seen Troy, but I gather from reviews that the near-total excision of the Greek gods and goddesses from that film doomed it to collapse like a wet souffle.

I haven't seen it, either, buy a good friend of mine did. She said they should have just called it "Achilles". And even then, the really interesting stuff about Achilles was played down.


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skdadl
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posted 09 December 2004 12:57 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Alix, I am ashamed to admit that not only have I not read the books; I've never heard of them before. (That never means much.)

A revisioning of Paradise Lost -- that's interesting. The Fall as deep structure in many stories: one can often detect it, even when there seems no surface reference to religion or spirit.

But ignore these idle speculations of mine. They're too abstract. You can meet people who will tell you that there are only four plots anyway.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: skdadl ]


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bittersweet
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posted 09 December 2004 01:22 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not only cowardice is at work here. There's also somebody's ego. Director-writers are a frequent curse. This explains it all:

quote:
...yesterday [Nov. 20, 2004] Sir Tom Stoppard told The Independent on Sunday that his eagerly awaited film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy had been quietly shelved by the Hollywood director brought in to make the movie.

Stoppard, who won an Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love, was hired to script the fantasy epic, and completed his draft screenplay for the first installment, The Golden Compass, several months ago.

But yesterday, Stoppard admitted he had heard nothing since its submission and the appointment of one of Hollywood's rising stars, Chris Weitz, as director. Stoppard said he assumes his services are no longer required.

"As far as I was made aware, New Line Cinema and Philip Pullman all liked it. Then Chris Weitz got the job. And he likes to write his own scripts," said Stoppard.


The Independent

Note the last line: "And he likes to write his own scripts." It wasn't exactly a secret that both Pullman and Stoppard were unimpressed when Weitz was chosen to direct.

The only silver lining possible (which the director's comments possibly allude to) is the exchange of politics for religion, thus making the film a subtle attack on the high priest neocons instead. But I'm not holding my breath.

Regardless, removing religion from Pullman's work is like removing the mafia from The Godfather. What a heartbreak.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 09 December 2004 01:41 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It only gets worse...

I don't have a problem with director/writers, as a rule, it's when there's already a script and they have to "make it their own" that is generally messes up. I can't imagine what conceit could make Weitz imagine he could improve on something written by someone the calibre of Stoppard. Astounding.


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skdadl
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posted 09 December 2004 01:45 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Suddenly, I'm onside.
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Von Mises Pieces
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posted 09 December 2004 04:44 PM      Profile for Von Mises Pieces     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why should New Line be forced to make (and pay for) a movie it doesn't want to?

Isn't Pullman more to blame for hawking his novel without retaining stricter creative control? I'm sure he got a hefty cheque, but shouldn't maintaining the integrity of his art have trumped his desire for additional wealth? And if it didn't, why is anyone complaining if New Line's product isn't the exact same as Pullman's? He doesn't seem to have a problem with it, so how is it anybody else's business?


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Alix
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posted 09 December 2004 05:00 PM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why bother making a movie based on a book when you're going to gut it?

I'm disappointed Philip Pullman didn't keep more creative control, but more to the point, I'm a fan of the books and I'm horrified that the filmmakers are screwing with it this much. They did Lord of the Rings right, and now they're going to do this one wrong.

I'm also a little scared that there exists the kind of political climate that wants these changes.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: Alix ]


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bittersweet
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posted 09 December 2004 05:31 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is no reason why New Line should be "forced to make (and pay for) a movie it doesn't want to." Nobody has asserted that. What are you talking about?

Sure, you could blame Pullman. Since New Line produced LOR, and because they'd attached Tom Stoppard to adapt his novel, Pullman got as much assurance as he was going to get. Novelists don't get to decide on how their prose stories are adapted into filmed ones. It's always a risk. Always. At any rate, Pullman's not the one so full of hubris that he doesn't bother to call Tom Stoppard to explain the decision to change the fundamental conflict in the story, and to tell him his services are no longer needed because he has decided to take over the adaptation instead.

Nobody credible would complain that "New Line's product isn't the exact same as Pullman's," and in fact nobody has. Again, what are you talking about?

Finally, it's silly to challenge an opinion about a proposed fundamental change to the story because "Pullman doesn't seem to have a problem with it." An author's opinion about the filmed adaptation of his novel isn't the only one allowed. More relevant though, is the fact that Pullman isn't quoted in the article at all. His agent is. Oh, and the director.

.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Von Mises Pieces
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posted 09 December 2004 05:31 PM      Profile for Von Mises Pieces     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Alix:
I'm also a little scared that there exists the kind of political climate that wants these changes.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: Alix ]


The number of books I like that have also been turned into movies I like are few and far between. It even works the other way - I much preferred the fun kablooie "Bourne" movies over the repetitive, watching-paint-dry Ludlum books. Sometimes, like with the John Grisham canon, crap begets crap.

But the books are available - I'm not going to fault a studio for tailoring a movie to appeal the broadest possible audience, if that's what they want to do. I'm not going to pay you paint my house if I can't choose the colour.

If you're not going to be happy with New Line's interpretation of the film, don't see it. But consider that the mere act of making the movie (not to mention this extra publicity) is going to push far more people to read the book itself than would have done otherwise.

I, like skdadl I believe, hadn't heard of the novels before this tempest in a teacup erupted - but they sound fascinating, so guess who's checking the bookstore next time he's in?


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Von Mises Pieces
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posted 09 December 2004 06:11 PM      Profile for Von Mises Pieces     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bittersweet:
At any rate, Pullman's not the one so full of hubris that he doesn't bother to call Tom Stoppard to explain the decision to change the fundamental conflict in the story, and to tell him his services are no longer needed because he has decided to take over the adaptation instead.


So that's all you're whingeing about? Because poor little Sir Tom Stoppard wasn't fired very nicely? My heart breaks.


quote:
Finally, it's silly to challenge an opinion about a proposed fundamental change to the story because "Pullman doesn't seem to have a problem with it."

No more silly than trying to whip up some bullshit censorship frenzy (viz. Alix "very, very angry" about the people Zoot has decided are "kowtowing cowards" - in the context of "Bush's America" - or your own nods to "high priest neocons").


quote:
An author's opinion about the filmed adaptation of his novel isn't the only one allowed.

By all means nit-pick over how Character A didn't say the exact same thing in the movie as he said on page 158 of the book, or Character B's backstory was just a five-minute Bennny Hill-style high-speed chase rather than three volumes of steam-of-consciousness. I'll be over here trying to herd kittens, remembering that while related, the book and the movie are two different beasts.

Just don't conflate a studio's decision to produce whatever movie it thinks will be best (for whatever reason) with some grand battle against the forces of frothing Republican book-burners. You'll blow all your credibilty by the time real issues (eg. Judith Miller) arrive.

It's the same lowest common denominator, dumb-it-down-as-much-as-possible climate that Hollywood's worked within for years; the same one that suddenly decided movie terrorists can no longer be Islamic, unless marionettes. I'm sure that move wasn't supported by Dubya's brownshirts - think of the foregone propaganda value.


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bittersweet
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posted 09 December 2004 07:01 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Von Mises Pieces, my reference to the way Stoppard's script was "quietly shelved" was in response to your opinion that the original author was "more to blame." The point you missed is that the people making the story changes are ultimately the ones most responsible for those changes. The "Poor little Sir Tom Stoppard" sarcastic flourish implies that you think the main point was about rudeness. Oh, and that you don't respect Tom Stoppard.

As for whipping up "some bullshit censorship frenzy," consider that it was Pullman's agent quoted in the BBC article who said "You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America." Maybe you didn't read the article, or failed to comprehend it. However, since you did acknowledge "frothing Republican book-burners," and "Dubya's brownshirts," phrases hardly different than my "high priest neocons," which you criticize, your confusion seems to be more extensive.

And of course no one is nit-picking "over how Character A didn't say the exact same thing in the movie as he said on page 158 of the book," etc. Just as no one has conflated "a studio's decision to produce whatever movie it thinks will be best...with some grand battle against the forces of frothing Republican book-burners." You can't rescue your credibility by slaying more straw men, a number which stands at about half a dozen to this point.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 09 December 2004 07:32 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I haven't read the Pullman books, but have heard various things; still if religion [or anti-religion?] is part of the books' structure, it's hard to cut it out without negating the point of the books.

But, that's the movies... Hitchcock's "The Thirty-nine Steps had almost no connection whatsoever with the book; instead of a staircase with 39 steps it became a scientific formula or something. How many other books have been distorted into movies by some director who was or thought he was a genius?


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bittersweet
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posted 09 December 2004 08:02 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A screenwriter is under no obligations to be "faithful" to a book, unless the producer says so--and even then, what "faithful" means has definite parameters. The usual approach is to tease out a book's theme, to grope around intuitively, and to see what elements of plot, etc. might be useful. No question, an adaptation is an original piece of work, and takes a specialized kind of creative thinking. Maybe Weitz will do a good job--the book did "change his life," so he says. Or, maybe he'll do what Ralph Bakshi did to LOR. Luckily, LOR got another kick at the can with the right guy. But it had to wait decades.

Given that the trilogy is literature, not the product of a hack (like Grisham), it was exciting to think what Stoppard would do with it, given the surpassing quality of his own work. It was a match made in Heaven, but now Heaven's been cut right out. Sigh.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 09 December 2004 08:09 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
No more silly than trying to whip up some bullshit censorship frenzy (viz. Alix "very, very angry" about the people Zoot has decided are "kowtowing cowards" - in the context of "Bush's America" - or your own nods to "high priest neocons").

I don't think I used the word censorship anywhere. My point was that this is a challenging work to make in the current political climate, and they (new line and the director) got cold feet. It is a sort of cowardice.

quote:
By all means nit-pick over how Character A didn't say the exact same thing in the movie as he said on page 158 of the book, or Character B's backstory was just a five-minute Bennny Hill-style high-speed chase rather than three volumes of steam-of-consciousness. I'll be over here trying to herd kittens, remembering that while related, the book and the movie are two different beasts.

As bittersweet has already noted, that isn't the issue at all. The change is a more fundamental one, which will affect the primary themes from the original work. It's my opinion that it's a pity that's going to happen.

I don't expect movie versions to mimic the original works too closely. It's a difficult thing to fit hundreds of pages into a couple of hours, and it takes a special talent and skill to do so effectively. Some characters need to be cut or combined, and sometimes things need to be added to create the right kind of arc. I know a wee bit about adaptation, as I've taken a few workshops on it, but will bow to bittersweet's superior knowledge of the subject, and I'm quite certain he has no such expectations of perfect repetition of the original, either.

It's a shame that Hollywood often steals titles and leaves stories behind... Why not just write a screenplay as an original concept?

edited to add: There you go, he beat me to it, and said it better than I did, too.

[ 09 December 2004: Message edited by: Zoot ]


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Contrarian
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posted 09 December 2004 08:30 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't see the Bakshi film of LOTR; but there was a cartoon The Hobbit on TV years ago in which the elves were depicted as a bunch of nasty looking little goblins.
From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged

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